Pride of the Lions
STORIES By BOB HARRIS
IT was a unique quadrella for the Coffs Harbour United Soccer Club in the Holiday Coast semi finals played at the Lions Den on Saturday.
All four of their senior teams won the easy and direct route into the grand finals to be played in two weeks time.
A penalty shootout started the day in the womens reserve grade with the Lionesses wining 3-1 against a plucky Woolgoolga Dolphins team.
The double was achieved in the men's reserve grade after the Lions defeated a lack lustre performance by the Sawtell Scorpions reserves 2-0.
The trifecta was secured ninety minutes later in the women's first grade with the Lionesses taking out their semi final over Corindi Red Rock Breakers by the same score line 2-0 .
Then it was four out of four in the final game of the day as the men's first grade saw the Lions again victorious against a tenacious Woolgoolga Wolves 3-2.
Coffs United Lions 3
Woolgoolga Wolves 2
THIS game played in front of a record crowd of over a thousand football fans under a full moon was a classic semi final.
Local punters could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching a game of Aussie Rules with more aerial skills displayed than you would see at the MCG.
The home team took the lead in the 20th minute with a superb header by man of the match Ryan Turner.
Their aerial superiority was evident as 20 minutes later the Lions made it two with another far post header, this time taken by Ben McKay.
However the Premiers didn't have it all their own way.
The Wolves failed to score from the penalty spot five minutes before half time after an unbelievable diving save from the Coffs keeper Stuart Cook and as the teams entered the dressing rooms it was obvious the second half was going to be a classic.
Woolgoolga coach Michael 'Jacko' Jackson must have added something to the half time orange juice as his team took it to the Lions in the second stanza.
After 10 minutes they had pulled one back with yet another header this time from Rick Barnier.
The Wolves never-say-die attitude was evident with referee Jason Woodward keeping a close eye on two teams desperate to earn the week off.
Turner made it two for himself and three for the Lions in the 65th minute but this seemed to spur Woolgoolga on as the pace of the game quickened.
With pressure mounting a mid field altercation between the sides saw tempers flare and a lot of pushing and shoving resulted in referee Woodward taking control.
He calmly removed a couple of handbags from the players and showed both the protagonists his yellow cards.
This situation was nicely handled by Woodward, who had a superb game himself.
He is surely one of the best referees in the area.
In the final 15 minutes Woolgoolga were rewarded for their tenacity again.
A rocket like shot whistled past the out stretched Cook to make the final score 3-2.
Both sides could have added to this score line in the dying minutes, especially after the Lions young striker Nick Lambert turned the Woopi defence inside out and then, with only the keeper to beat, put his shot over the bar from 10 meters, the game ended with the Premiers Coffs Harbour securing the 3-2 victory and the Wolves up against Sawtell next week at High Street Woolgoolga.
Lions coach Jon Ross was disappointed with his team's lack of discipline especially in the second half stating that credit must go to the Wolves team who closed down the Lions at every opportunity.
"They clearly unsettled us," Ross said.
"I will be working hard with the lads over the next two weeks to emphasise the importance of discipline and structure into our play."
Woolgoolga, although unhappy with the final result can take heart in their performance.
They have improved since last weeks 3-0 loss and this performance they appear favourites to meet their arch rivals again in two weeks.